The Rules For Talking To Your Children About Death And Dying

The Rules For Talking To Your Children About Death And Dying

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Parents are put into many precarious situations. Death is inevitable, but parents are often unwilling to speak to their children about dying and death. In fact, this is one of the subjects that might actually be worse than the birds and the bees. Should you even speak with your child about the subject? How should you approach it, without making it sound terrifying and giving your child a shock? For some parents, addressing the problem with haste is pertinent. If you have a life-threatening disease, it is best to speak with your child early. Below, you’ll learn more about this complicated subject matter.

Should you Speak About Death with Your Child?

Many parents believe that death should be off limits. This isn’t necessarily the case. Palliative care professionals concur that children generally know a great deal more than their parents realize. What happens when your child asks you about death? The sad truth is that you cannot avoid the subject forever. Your child likely already has a good idea about dying, so it is best to address it sooner rather than later. Many professionals recommend using direct and open communication. This is recommended for terminally ill children. However, everyone understands that each family is unique.

Avoid Euphemisms

There is a reason you do not see death portrayed on mum mum TV or your child’s other favorite shows. Euphemisms and death do not mix. Instead, experts recommend that parents avoid using euphemisms when speaking to their children about death. Euphemisms can provide great cover when addressing uncomfortable subjects. If someone in your family passes away, you should not tell your child that he or she is sleeping. If you do, they may expect the person to wake up and return within a few days, or if they know the relative isn’t going to wake up they may be afraid of sleeping themselves. The mass majority of professionals agree that using the terms “die”, “dying”, and “dead” is best.

Breaking The Bad News

A lot of children will experience the death of a loved one very early in their lives. This does not necessarily have to be a traumatic experience. By keeping open lines of communication with your child, you may be able to dull the sting to some degree. Speak with your child as soon as that loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Let them know that the individual is ill and could pass away in the near future. Keeping them aware every step of the way will make it much easier to break the bad news when the inevitable happens. Still, delivering the news will not be easy. Social workers suggest using stories or activity books to get the conversation started. Reading the Humpty Dumpty Poem together can be a great way to keep your children calm and introduce the conept.

Knowing What To Expect

Knowing what to expect is truly one of the most important aspects of telling your child about a loved one’s death. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Often times, the reaction of the child will depend on their personality and their age. For younger children, you should be prepared for an onslaught of questions. Older children may retreat and become isolated. Knowing how to react to each situation is pertinent for helping your child through these difficult times.


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